Most of you know that I am an Apple fan. I certainly won't deny the fact. However, it was only a few years ago that I would have derided Apple products as being inferior to Microsoft. Yes, I was a PC. I mention this so that my next few paragraphs don't sound like a tirade against Microsoft from an avid Apple fan.
I had to run up to the local mall today over lunch to pick up a few items. The Christiana Mall has been the home of an Apple store for several years. Recently, a sign went up in the mall saying that a Microsoft store would be coming soon. The Microsoft store is a new direction for Microsoft which has only just started a year or so ago. The idea behind the Microsoft store is to allow potential PC purchasers to come in and buy PC from some of Microsoft's largest hardware vendors. You can also buy xBox gear, Microsoft software, and other Microsoft related products.
So, back to my trip to the mall. I passed the soon-to-be opened Microsoft store today and I was quite surprised by the fact that it looks an awful lot like the Apple store. Same style glass-fronted windows, similar furnishings, etc. When I got home, I decided to look the Microsoft stores online. The pictures that I found of other Microsoft stores showed people in colored shirts with name tags hanging around their necks, glass fronts to the stores, and a minimalistic interior with flat tables displaying products. Sound familiar?
I felt like I was looking into an alternative Apple store where Apple suddenly started selling Microsoft stuff. The Microsoft stores look very similar to the Apple stores. You could easily swap staff, products, and signage between the Apple store and the Microsoft store without anyone noticing a difference. Other than a small minor details, the Microsoft store could be a twin of the Apple store.
Microsoft is one of the largest software companies in the world. I wonder why their marketing people couldn't come up with an original idea for their stores. I would have thought that Microsoft would have wanted to create their own image and brand so that they could stand apart from Apple. But, instead, it seems like they simply copied the Apple store. What purpose could this serve? I am fairly certain that Apple fans won't be tricked into thinking that they are walking into an Apple store.
They say that "imitation is the highest form of flattery". Should Apple be flattered by Microsoft's attempt to imitate them, even down to the actual store design? Or, was Microsoft simply out of original ideas?